EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The El Paso City Council unanimously voted on Tuesday, March 28 to hire a search firm that will help find a pool of candidates to replace the current City Manager Tommy Gonzalez.

On February 28, a divided City Council voted to terminate Gonzalez’s contract as city manager with no cause.

Gonzalez was given a 120-day notice and will be out of office in June.

“One of our largest responsibilities as elected officials that we will make,” said Mayor Oscar Leeser about the hiring of a new city manager.

After agreeing to hire a search firm, the next step for the City Council is to pick one.

Mary Wiggins, assistant director of human resources for the city, said the city has a list of questions through which they will evaluate potential companies.

They are expected to start the bidding process at the end of April, according to Wiggins.

“We will take those bids, they will be evaluated, and they will be scored based on the questions that will be attached in the RFP,” she said.

The City will look at several qualifications for the company including the length of conducting recruitments for similar positions and number of city manager recruitments in the last 10 years.

Once the firm is selected, the hiring process for the new city manager can begin.

“We’re gonna have a clear framework and clear guidelines that’s going to include the public which I think is crucial,” District 3 Rep. Cassandra Hernandez said.

Hernandez presented results of a survey to the council that showed over 60% of El Pasoans want to be engaged in choosing the new city manager, so the city is expected to create a citizen’s committee for advice on the hiring process.

Hernandez also showed top 5 salaries for city manager positions across Texas, focusing on cities with larger populations:

  1. San Antonio   $444,761          Population: 1,45 mil.
  2. Dallas             $423,000          Population: 1,28 mil.
  3. Austin           $388,190.40     Population: 964,177
  4. Fort Worth    $354,326          Population: 958,692
  5. Arlington      $323, 836         Population:192,786

Average salary of those top 5 cities is $385,822, which is less than the current city manager salary at a little over $400,000.

Hernandez said the city will have to create a competitive job ad to get the best candidates.

“We’re over 500,000 population and so it’s critical that our posting and our salaries are competitive. They are attractive because we want to recruit the best talent in Texas or even locally,” she said.

Wiggins said they hope to find a new city manager by the end of November, but that is subject to change depending on the candidates they get.

The City Council named Cary Westin as interim city manager on March 14. Westin will take over once Gonzalez leaves the position and will serve until a permanent successor is named.

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